Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Shepastor: "Have You Lost Your Song?"

5Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
7My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
11Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
Psalm 57: 5-11, NIV

The Hebrew writers did not have one word for the term “praise,” but rather they used various, specific words, depending upon the message that they were attempting to convey to the reader and or listener. In Psalm 57, the Psalmist uses the Hebrew term, “Zamar.”

Zamar means "to pluck the strings of an instrument, to sing, to praise; a musical word which is largely involved with joyful expressions of music with musical instruments.”

Back in the late 70’s/ early 80’s an R & B group named Earth, Wind and Fire had a song called, “Sing a Song”

The lyrics said,

When you feel down and out
Sing a song, it'll make your day…

Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and James Cleveland declared,

Without a song the day would never end
Without a song the road would never bend
When things go wrong a man ain't got a friend
Without a song…

...I'll never know what makes the rain to fall
I'll never know what makes that grass so tall
I only know there ain't no love at all
Without a song

Even Elmo, in his dvd, “Welcome to Grouch Land,” sings the 70’s group the Carpenters tune…

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

All of these songs have a common theme – songs of the heart greatly contribute to the health and sustainability of life. Proverbs 17:22 declares, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 18: 14 declares, “A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”

It appears that the Psalmist had every reason to have a crushed spirit. Enemies had stolen “his song.” In verse 4 of our text, Psalm 57, the Psalmist declared,

4I am in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords

The Psalmist describes his circumstance as being “amidst lions, ravenous beasts, men whose teeth are as spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp as swords… He’s in a bad place. Have you ever experienced the pain of being attacked by mean spirited people? Not necessarily physically attacked, but having your character attacked, your name dragged through the mud, your motives questioned, your every move considered suspect. Have you ever experienced a jealous co-worker or sibling, an insecure mentor or boss, an envious relative, a cruel bully – if you have, then you can relate to the psalmist.

The pain inflicted by the tongue sometimes lasts years longer than any bruise caused by a physical punch. The feeling that someone is waiting to pounce on you, so to speak by speaking cruel words, or by plotting to get you removed or in trouble can break your spirit and make you feel sick. The Psalmist said that these enemies seemed to be as ravenous beasts – their treatment of him felt like a wild animal was tearing him from limb to limb. He was in some serious pain – He had lost his song but not for long. Something happened within the Psalmist. He began to speak in His native Hebrew language and declared, “Zamar!”

Zamar means "to pluck the strings of an instrument, to sing, to praise; a musical word which is largely involved with joyful expressions of music with musical instruments.”
He stepped over the pain of attacks and climbed up to platform of his soul and began to pluck the strings of his heart and declared,

5Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah

In the text you see the instruction, “Selah” that is not to be spoken or pronounced, it is an instruction to pause and think about what was just said. The Psalmist said, “They spread a net for my feet – I was bowed down in distress – they dug a pit in my path – but they have fallen into it themselves.” And then, he stops and thinks about what God has done and declares…

7My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.

The Psalmist declared with strength, faith and determination – “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast, I will sing and make music.” You have to make up your mind to get your song back! Much in life will try to steal your song. Much in life will threaten to break your spirit, to crush your dreams, to laugh at your vision, to press down, your enthusiasm, but you’ve got to declare like the Psalmist – “Zamar!” I Will sing and make music.

Keep a song of faith in your heart. No matter what comes your way – declare, “Be exalted O God above the heavens, let your glory be over all of the earth.” In other words, the Psalmist was saying, “God be exalted over my enemies, over my situation, over my pain, over my circumstances – let your glory be over EVERYTHING that concerns me!” The Psalmist made up his mind that he was going to sing his song. He said, “Zamar!” My heart is going to be an instrument – your goodness, mercy, glory and grace is going to pluck the strings of my heart and I exalt you in my life – I exalt you in my spirit, I exalt you above all that would seek to cast me down and I will praise your name! The Psalmist declared in so many words – I will not let you steal my song!

Sing your song – exalt God in your life. Proclaim God’s glory unto yourself – exalt God in your life – refuse to accept the enemies report – Isaiah raised the question, “whose report will you believe?” Get your song back! Sing your song. Stop letting the mean spirited attacks of your enemies to pluck your heart strings. Instead, shout, “Zamar” and proclaim – “Be exalted O God above the heavens, let your glory be over my life!”

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Shepastor: El Roi: “The God Who Sees Me”

O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];You understand my thought from afar.3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Psalm 139: 1-3, Amplified Bible

Psalm 139 presents God as El Roi, “The God Who Sees Us.”
In this Psalm, David was doing some deep introspection. He was pouring out all of his feelings - the good, the bad and the ugly before God. He was, “keeping it real.” David didn’t try to hide his feelings, his struggles, his questions, even his hateful feelings toward his enemies from God, because David understood that there was no place he could run or hide from the all seeing eye of the Lord. Interestingly, he took great comfort in Knowing that God sees and knows all.

When our daughter Aris was just learning how to talk she enjoyed playing “peek - a - boo.” Sometimes she would crawl up the stairs to the landing which divided our staircase, run to the window and pull the curtains over her face, peek out with a big grin and say, “I See You!” Playing that game gave her great delight because she enjoyed hiding her face and then peeking out and saying, “I See You!”

While God is not in heaven playing peek - a - boo with us, saying, “I See You,” there are times, when we like Adam and Eve in the garden want to run and hide ourselves, run and cover ourselves, pull, if you will, a curtain over our faces because we don’t want the Lord to look at us. Sometimes we don’t even want to look at ourselves. Sometimes we wrestle with who we are, who we aren’t and who we wish we were. There are others who feel that nobody “sees” them. They feel invisible.

In Ralph Ellison’s Work, The Invisible Man, he discusses one man’s struggle to “see” himself after years of feeling invisible. The character declared…
And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone’s way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself…

This was grieved that no one cared to know him. He felt that no one ever gave him a second thought. Who he was didn’t matter - not to those who couldn’t see him…not for those who had no desire to see him. They only saw what they wanted him to be - they only saw what they carved out for him to be. Therefore, the true essence of who he was, was invisible. So he spent years of his life trying to be something he was not, living beneath who God had created him to be, trying, as June Cash, the widow of Johnny Cash used to say, “Just tryin to matter.”

So many spend their lives, never learning who God meant them to be, just tryin to matter - walking around, feeling invisible because nobody can “see” them. Some are so buried under the junk of stuff that folks have piled on them over the years that they can’t even see themselves!

But there is one who sees you! God sees us and loves us unconditionally just as we are.
While the Lord desires that we become all that we were created to be, His arms are open to receive us just as we are, where we are, however we are. Your only pre-requisite is to say “Yes” to His out stretched hand, receive Jesus as Savior and allow the Lord to cleanse you and make you whole.

You are not invisible! El Roi sees you and loves you.
God wants you to be able to see yourself as He sees you - wondrously made, gifted, beautiful, resourceful, meaningful and fit for His use. The Lord wants you to throw off all of the negativity, all of the baggage from the past, all of the mess that weighs you down and buries the real you. God wants to lift you. God wants to free you. God wants to restore you. God wants you to see yourself as He sees you – VALUABLE, BEAUTIFUL, GIFTED, AND READY TO RISE!!!

If you are struggling to know the true you, the real you, the “you” that El Roi sees, ask the Lord who knew you before the foundation of the world to open your eyes to all that God intended you to be and walk into your God appointed destiny!

I am standing in agreement with you today for GREATER!!!
Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Shepastor: “The Lord is My Banner, My Light and My Salvation”

Jehovah Nisi - The Lord is My Banner
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; who is then a cause of fear to me? the Lord is the strength of my life; who is a danger to me? 2 When evil-doers, even my haters, came on me to put an end to me, they were broken and put to shame. 3 Even if an army came against me with its tents, my heart would have no fear: if war was made on me, my faith would not be moved. Psalm 27: 1-3, The Bible in Basic English

In ancient times, armies had a team of soldiers that were designated to carry a banner that was held high, that identified who they were, the name of their God and what they stood for. The purpose of the banner was to remind the fighting troops that they were not alone in the battle, but that enforcements were there fighting alongside them. The Lord, Jehovah Nissi would make them victorious. The banner also sent notice to their enemies that they were not going to just break through and pillage and rob and rape and destroy and take over because the soldiers were not fighting on their own - they had a weapon stronger than any nuclear weapon. They had the Lord God Jehovah-Nissi going before them fighting their battle. So then the banner did several things - it encouraged the troops to keep the faith because they were not alone, it reminded them that the Lord Jehovah-Nissi was going before them, fighting the battle and making them victorious, and it reminded their enemies that the army was a force to be reckoned with - that God was with them and he was moving mightily on their behalf. When they focused upon the Lord as their Banner, moving and working on their behalf, it calmed their fears.

In Psalm 27, David lifts up several key points to encourage himself:
(1) The Lord is his light and keeps him safe - who can make him afraid? David says that in the dark times of his life, the Lord lit his path and kept him safe. Sometimes in the dark times of our lives, the discouraging times, the uncertain times, the times when we don’t know which way to turn, the times when it looks like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel- times of darkness - we can become afraid and overwhelmed. Psalm 27 teaches us that even in dark times the Lord, Jehovah-Nissi is our light – The Lord can and will show us the way if we put our trust in Him, lean and depend upon Him and ask Him to show us the way.

(2) The second thing that David lifts up in these two verses is his enemies rose up against him but they stumbled and fell. Many of the Psalms were written as David ran from his mentor, King Saul. On several occasions, Saul sought to take David’s life. To complicate matters, Saul was the father of his best friend Jonathan. But David continued to trust in the Lord. David never sought to retaliate against Saul. On one occasion, David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but he said, “far be it from me to touch the Lord’s anointed.”

(3) David allowed the Lord to handle his enemies. Although it’s not easy, we must allow the Lord- Jehovah Nissi to go before us and fight our battles. There are some enemies that only the Lord God can handle. Some enemies are unseen. The enemy of our souls - satan is ever warring against our mind, against our hopes, against our dreams, against our spirit, seeking to discourage us, to hinder us and ultimately to make us give up. He wants to make us afraid and believe that the Lord has forgotten us, that the Lord doesn’t care about us, that the Lord is insensitive to our needs. But when you remember that the Lord is with you, going before you, making a way for you - the enemy satan will have to fall back. God’s word says, “resist the devil and he will flee from you - draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.”

Today, and always, remember that the Lord, Jehovah Nisi is our banner! The Lord goes before us. The Lord will fight our battles and the Lord will give us victory. The Lord is our light and our salvation. Who should we fear? The Lord is the strength of our lives…who can make us afraid?

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Shepastor: "What is Your New Life Resolution?"

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 12-14, KJV

Every year between December 31st and January 1st, people make all kind of promises to themselves and to others. We call these promises – “resolutions.” This term comes from the root word, “resolute,” meaning to be resolved, determined, undaunted, tenacious, unwavering.” New Year resolutions are born out of the idea that the old year for better or for worse is gone and is not coming back – so in the new year, we hope to do somethings better, or at least differently.

You’ve heard them, “I’m going to lose weight…, I’m going to stop cursing…, I’m going to stop smoking…, I’m going to save more money…, I’m going to stop using credit cards…” The list goes on and on. Today, I’d like to challenge us not to think about making meaningless promises that most times we fail to keep. I’d like to challenge you to prayerfully consider making a “New Life Resolution.”

How “resolute” are you when it comes to living a transformed life? Do you have a “fixed” mindset or a “growth mindset.” For some, they accepted Christ as a child and have been going to church ever since. But no real or true transformation has ever happened in their lives. They are “fixed.” They are not concerned about growth. They are not concerned about transformation. They are content to remain as they are.

There is a difference between changing a habit and changing your life. Even dieticians and physicians have come to the conclusion that if you really want to lose weight, you can’t just create a list of things you determine that you will give up. Human nature dictates that after a while, the feeling of self -deprivation will take over and you will return to old habits of eating things you shouldn’t. Therefore, they say, a life change – in other words, a change of thought, a change of heart, a change of resolve has to take place in order for real results to happen and be long term.

So it is with our spiritual walk with Christ. Being a Christian is more than giving up the seven deadly sins…Lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger and pride. Some stricter traditions have added a few more…drinking, smoking, playing cards, dancing, popping fingers, wearing makeup and going out to parties!

The problem with both lists is that those efforts may control some external behaviors, but the human will can never change the human heart. In order to truly change, a spiritual transformation has to take place. This is not some mystical, secretive process whereby a person has to say chants or drink a potion or have a witch doctor shake some special formula with smoke over your head. No no! Holy Ghost transformation – the kind of transformation that changes your life happens when you have an encounter with God.
Yes, even those who minister and preach the Gospel need to have transforming experiences – fresh encounters with God.

In 2018, don’t let the demons of fear, of worry, of self-doubt, of low self-esteem, of old belittling voices in your head, of resentment, anger, hostility and yes even hatred – don’t let those demons keep you shackled. As you enter 2018 let it go. Don’t be like the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for forty years because they kept looking back and couldn’t believe God for what they could not see. Step out on faith –ask the Lord to reveal his will and purpose for your life and then pursue it.

Pastor and author Bill Hybel says,
“You will never take big hills without making bold moves”

Letting go of what has held you back, held you down, kept you imprisoned is not always easy – it takes the bold move of faith to let it go, trust God, resolve to live for Him in every way. It’s a new path, a fresh encounter, a prayerful journey, a new way of living. Be bold and walk with your head held high, press towards the mark that God has ordained for your life.

May you and yours have a “growth filled,” joyous, peaceful and “forward moving” New Year!

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris